Martin Cullingford's pick of the finest recordings from this month's reviews.
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Image #3 OCTOBER 2021
Ye Winter
Royal Scottish National Orchestra / José Serebrier, Gilbert Varga

Chinese composer Xiaogang Ye’s music is revealed in these superb performances to possess lyrical elegance, searching drama and depth of colour – well worth exploring.

‘As intriguing as it is beguiling’ was how the ‘east-meets-west soundworld’ of Xiaogang Ye was described in the BBC Music Magazine on the release of a previous disc of his orchestral works in 2016. On that occasion Ye’s music was championed by José Serebrier, who returns here, sharing the task with Gilbert Varga. Between them they conduct the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and four international soloists in five works which highlight the beginning of Ye’s career as well as his more recent works. The Brilliance of Western Liang was written in 1983, during Ye’s time as a student at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and is named after a fifth-century kingdom in northwest China. Five years later, Ye wrote his Op. 28, Winter for orchestra, shortly after the he had gone to stay in the U.S.A. A wintry theme returns in December Chrysanthemum (2006), composed in memory of Ye’s daughter Nini, who passed away as an infant. Two years later, Ye was given the prestigious task of writing a work for the opening ceremony of the Beijing Summer Olympics. His Starry Sky for piano, chorus and orchestra, was performed for a worldwide audience with Lang Lang at the piano. The most recent work on the disc is The Song of Sorrow and Gratification (2012), a cycle of four orchestral songs dedicated to the bass-baritone Shenyang who also performs them here. The work sets texts by Li Shutong (1880–1942), assembled from early poems reflecting the resentment, melancholy and helplessness experienced by a young man during a period of turmoil in the history of China.

kr 169
Image #7 OCTOBER 2021
‘… Le temps perdu …’
Imogen Cooper pf

A highly personal album from Imogen Cooper, of works the pianist played as a student or young artist, but not since, exploring the impact of memory and the passing of time on music.

Borrowing the title from Proust’s great novel, Imogen Cooper’s latest recital features a collection of pieces that she learnt as a teenager in Paris, or in her twenties working with Alfred Brendel in Vienna, but none of which she has performed on the concert platform, or really played at all in the intervening years. Cooper studied in Paris from 1961-67 with Jacques Février (who had known Ravel well), Yvonne Lefébure (who had known Alfred Cortot), and Germaine Mounier. She started to wonder about the messages from her teachers she would find on her scores, and about the nature of memory. She was also interested to see if the repertoire she has acquired since she learnt these pieces would change her view, or shed a new light. This highly personal recital is an exemplar of Imogen Cooper’s outstanding pianism and musicianship.

kr 169
Image #8 OCTOBER 2021
Schnittke Choir Concerto
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir / Kaspars Putninš

The profound spiritual depth of these settings by Pärt and Schnittke, caught here in superb performances from Estonia, is deeply moving. 

As Alfred Schnittke and Arvo Pärt both adopted the Orthodox faith in the 1970s, Orthodox choral traditions became increasingly prominent in their work, but both composers also looked to the music of the Western church. Schnittke’s Three Sacred Hymns set three prayers, familiar in the West as Ave Maria, the Jesus Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer, and evoke Orthodox chant. His Choir Concerto, on the other hand, draws on Russian choral music of the 19th century and the tradition of large-scale concert works based on Orthodox choral music. The texts by the medieval Armenian poet Gregory of Narek are informed by a humanistic individualism, with the poet directly expressing his emotions and often writing in the first person. In the case of Pärt, his detailed study of Orthodox chant caused him to develop his so-called ‘tintinnabuli’ system of composition as an extension of the harmonic practices of Orthodox choral music. He wrote his Seven Magnificat-Antiphons in 1988, applying the tintinnabuli technique to texts from the Catholic liturgy in the German language – a striking East-West hybrid. The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Kaspars Putninš have combined sacred works by Schnittke and Pärt before, their previous release on BIS earning them a prestigious Gramophone Award in the Choral Music category.

kr 169
Image #9 OCTOBER 2021
Zacara da Teramo ‘Enigma Fortuna’
La Fonte Musica / Michele Pasotti lutes

A highly significant release for anyone interested in the history of early music, but even in purely performance terms this survey of Zacara da Teramo is a must-hear.

In this recording entitled Enigma Fortuna, the ensemble La Fonte Musica, directed by Michele Pasotti, aims to shed light on the mysterious and eccentric personality of Antonio Zacara da Teramo (1355-1416). A contemporary of Boccaccio, Donatello and Brunelleschi, this composer from the Abruzzi region could almost be likened to a sort of musical Hieronymus Bosch, for the texts he set to music conjure up a ‘topsy-turvy universe’ where the obscene, the imaginary and the grotesque go hand in hand. In his ballata Amor ne tossa he writes ‘Let him understand me who can, for I understand myself’, foreshadowing the proud egotism of the Romantic artists who were to come 400 years after him. With this four-album set presenting the world premiere of Zacara’s complete works, La Fonte Musica offers us an initial approach to understanding his music. And thereby, through the timeless character of art, to understanding a so-called ‘renascent’ era that seems as ‘topsy-turvy’ as our own.

kr 359
Image DVD: OCTOBER 2021
Verdi Simon Boccanegra
Sols; Zurich Opera / Fabio Luisi

Baritone Christian Gerhaher’s second appearance on this page this month, and only his second Verdi role, but one he powerfully embodies.

Intrigue, family tragedies, power struggles - these words aptly describe Verdi's opera "Simon Boccanegra". The composer himself once said "The piece is dark because it has to be, but it is gripping." And the opera, in which it is primarily the men who guide the story and in which there is only one female role, has been experiencing a renaissance at the world's great opera houses in recent years. In December 2020, Andreas Homoki's new production premiered at the Opernhaus Zürich. Christian Gerhaher made his celebrated role debut as "Simon Boccanegra" - due to the pandemic, only in front of 50 people in the hall and with the orchestra placed in the rehearsal room at Kreuzplatz, 1km away. But the opera was also broadcast live on TV, directed by Michael Beyer. The critics raved: "One experiences facial expressions and gestures almost up close, realizing only in the close-up how involved the protagonists are in the action down to every blink of an eye." (FAZ)

kr 259
kr 359
‘Journey Through a Century’
Sueye Park vn

"An extraordinary album of solo repertoire, Sueye Park transcending the technical demands with performances of vivid character, drama, emotion and engagement – captured in superb sound too." (Gramophone) 

Exploring the repertoire for solo violin, the young Korean violinist Sueye Park has chosen works spanning exactly 100 hundred years – from Max Reger’s Prelude and Fugue from 1909 to Penderecki’s Capriccio, composed in 2008. Framing the 20th century, the program starts as a relay race of famous violinist-composers; Reger dedicating his piece to Kreisler, who dedicated his Recitativo and Scherzo-Caprice to Ysaÿe, who wrote his Sonata No. 6 for the Spanish virtuoso Manuel Quiroga. In this series of names, that of Richard Strauss may come as a surprise, but his little-known Daphne-Etüde from 1945 is also dedicated to a violinist – his young grandson. The journey now turns eastwards with two solo sonatas, by Prokofiev and Weinberg, that were both composed in Moscow, albeit 20 years apart. These are followed by Isang Yun’s ‘Royal Theme’. The Korean-born composer uses the theme from Bach’s Musical Offering, but takes it on ‘a walk through the Asian tradition’ in the course of seven variations. In A Paganini, Alfred Schnittke revisits another colleague from the past – and one closely associated with the violin. Finally bringing us into the 21st century is Penderecki, whose early training as a violinist stood him in good stead when he composed his virtuosic Capriccio.

kr 169
Image #2 SEPTEMBER 2021
Haydn Symphonies Nos 6-8
Il Giardino Armonico / Giovanni Antonini

"‘A spirit of shared enjoyment’ writes reviewer Richard Wigmore – a description that embodies this team’s many superb Haydn recordings, to which this is a triumphant addition." (Gramophone) 

The HAYDN2032 edition celebrates the release of the tenth volume in the complete recording of Haydn’s 107 symphonies. Entitled ‘The Times of Day’, this program is devoted to Symphonies nos. 6, 7 and 8, whose individual names translate as ‘Morning’, ‘Noon’ and ‘Evening’. Prince Paul Anton Esterházy, who commissioned the work, is said to have wanted to show his guests that his orchestra was of excellent quality and that ‘his’ Haydn was highly inventive. Giovanni Antonini’s orchestra, Il Giardino Armonico, once again rises to the challenge! This triptych following the sun’s course is prolonged into the night by the work of another composer: Mozart’s Serenade in D major, nicknamed Serenata notturna, probably written for a masked ball at Salzburg Town Hall in February 1776. Jérôme Sessini of the Magnum agency, who has won awards for his work on the cartel wars in Mexico and the opioid crisis in the United States, took the photographs featured in this volume.

kr 169
Image #3 SEPTEMBER 2021
‘History of the Russian Piano Trio, Vol 4’
The Brahms Trio

"The Brahms Trio present works by Arensky and Taneyev with elegance and brilliant musicianship – an excellent starting point for exploring all five volumes of this outstanding series." (Gramophone) 

This album concludes The Brahms Trio’s five-volume survey of the piano trio in Russia with remarkable works by composers whose names have all but disappeared from the musical world’s collective memory. Vladimir Dyck, a student of Widor at the Paris Conservatoire, took French nationality in 1910 but his life came to a tragic end when he and his family were arrested in 1943 and sent to Auschwitz. His Piano Trio, Op. 25 contrasts Russian soulfulness with the lightness and deft scoring he brought to his film compositions. Constantin von Sternberg’s genial Op.104reflects his career as a virtuoso pianist, while Sergey Youferov’s expansive and nostalgic Op.52is a farewell to the Russian ‘Silver Age’, a world about to be destroyed by revolution.

kr 89
Image #4 SEPTEMBER 2021
Mozart ‘Prussian’ String Quartets
Doric Quartet

"The Doric Quartet continue to enrich the catalogue with another recording full of exactly what makes chamber music so rewarding: exploration, conversation, joyful collaboration and superb artistry." (Gramophone) 

Towards the end of his life, short of money and heavily in debt, Mozart had the opportunity to visit King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia – a famous patron of the arts and a keen and above-average musician. Mozart performed for the King and left with some cash and a commission for a set of six string quartets, of which these are the only three he completed. They are ground-breaking in the way in which Mozart utilised the voicing of the instruments. King Friedrich was a viola da gamba player turned cellist, and these works feature extensive melodies for the cello, usually in a high register, thus emancipating the cello from the bass line and introducing a more evenly blended texture. Firmly established as one of the leading quartets of their generation, the Doric String Quartet enjoys a worldwide reputation and has performed at festivals and concert halls around the globe. Exclusive Chandos artists, the Quartet has drawn widespread critical acclaim for its recordings and won a number of prestigious awards.

kr 169
Image #5 SEPTEMBER 2021
‘La clarinette parisienne’
Michael Collins cl Noriko Ogawa pf

"Master of the clarinet Michael Collins’s beauty of tone and impeccable shaping of phrase seems an absolutely perfect fit for these early (or turn-of-the-) 20th-century French works." (Gramophone) 

Up until around 1900 the clarinet repertoire was dominated by music from the German-speaking lands, largely due to the influence of three outstanding clarinettists. Inspired by Anton Stadler, Heinrich Bärmann and Richard Mühlfeld respectively, Mozart, Weber and Brahms composed some of the finest clarinet works ever written. But especially after the defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71, the French cultural establishment became increasingly concerned with cultivating a national voice of its own, and Michael Collins’s new release is a reminder of this. The works recorded here all date from the last years of the 19th century and afterwards, and it is striking that four of them (Debussy, Widor, Messager and Rabaud) were written as competition pieces for the Paris Conservatoire – the institution which played such a decisive role in shaping French musical life. But even though they were commissioned for educational purposes there is nothing academic about them: from Debussy’s seductive Rhapsodie to Messager’s light-heartedly brilliant Solo de concours there is instead a definite French – maybe even Parisian – quality to them. This also applies to the Clarinet Sonata by Saint-Saëns, composed in the last year of his life but full of charm and courtly irony. Closing the disc are two works from either end of Francis Poulenc’s life. While the brief Sonata for two clarinets from 1918 is pure and cheeky fun, the 1962 Sonata for Clarinet and Piano is more conflicted emotionally, as indicated by the first movement’s tempo marking Allegro tristamente. Throughout the greater part of the programme, Collins is partnered by Noriko Ogawa, whose pianism has won her particular acclaim in French repertoire, with Sérgio Pires making a guest appearance in Poulenc’s clarinet duo.

kr 169
Image #7 SEPTEMBER 2021
Sean Shibe gtr

"Each of these mainly Spanish works feels like a beautifully crafted and intimate painting – delicate, reflective, exquisite, mysterious – quietly gifted to listeners by a guitarist whose instinct for colour compels and transfixes." (Gramophone) 

Camino is guitarist Sean Shibe’s first PENTATONE album, an introspective programme exploring French-Spanish musical borders, a pilgrimage leading from Ravel’s Pavane pour une Infante défunte, Satie’s Gymnopédie No.1 and Gnossiennes 1 and 3, Poulenc’s Sarabande, De Falla’s Miller’s Dance and Homaje, pour le Tombeau de Debussy and José’s Pavana triste all the way to Mompou’s Canços i dansas 6 and 10, as well as his Suite compostelana. Shibe has deliberately granted Mompou a central role on this album, as his music demonstrates that melancholy, aimlessness and a whole host of other feelings are not things to be avoided or fixed or solved, but experiences to be felt deeply: not with sad nostalgia, but with genuine wonder and excitement at what this means for the future. In that respect, Camino also documents Shibe’s personal quest to overcome the challenges of a time dominated by Covid-19, and to ultimately see the world anew. Multi-award-winning guitarist Sean Shibe brings a fresh and innovative approach to the traditional classical guitar, while also exploring contemporary music and repertoire for electric guitar. Camino is the first fruit of an exclusive collaboration with PENTATONE.

kr 159
Image #8 SEPTEMBER 2021
‘Echoes of an Old Hall’
Music from the Old Hall Manuscript
Gothic Voices

"Music from the Old Hall manuscript, a hugely important collection of English medieval music, performed with atmospheric beauty by Gothic Voices." (Gramophone) 

Gothic Voices’ eagerly awaited new album features music from The Old Hall Manuscript: a wonderful collection of classy compositions from late fourteenth- to early fifteenth-century England. It embodies the English ‘flavor’ of music of the time, with its smooth melodies and sweet harmonies, irresistible to Franco-Flemish composers writing a generation or so later, and known by them as the ‘Contenance Angloise’. This highly expressive and quirky music, ranging in atmosphere from gently suave strains to high-octane cascades of sound, benefits from the gorgeous acoustics of Boxgrove Priory. English music by Cooke, Power, Pycard and Dunstable is answered by Burgundian composers Dufay, Lymburgia and Binchois, thus demonstrating the influence of said English Countenance, and hearing its echoes in the response. This is Gothic Voices’ fourth album for Linn following its first recording of mediaeval Christmas music, Nowell synge we bothe al and som, and two thematic programs, The Dufay Spectacle and Mary Star Of The Sea, each of which received widespread critical acclaim.

kr 169
Image #9 SEPTEMBER 2021
Katerina Knežíková sop Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra, Ostrava / Robert Jindra

"Soprano Katerina Knežíková’s tone – warm, drawn straight from the heart – seems perfect for this repertoire of dreamy, richly coloured orchestral songs." (Gramophone) 

Katerina Knežíková’s lyric coloratura soprano has delighted audiences in numerous music centers worldwide, both at opera houses and concert venues. She has appeared with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Bamberger Symphoniker, Camerata Salzburg, the Czech Philharmonic, the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, etc., under the baton of conductors of such renown as J. Belohlávek, S. Baudo, M. Honeck, J. Hruša, T. Netopil and R. Ticciati. The highlights of her career include the invitation to portray the title role in Janácek’s opera Katya Kabanova in Glyndebourne. Katerina Knežíková’s debut Supraphon solo album features enchanting fin de siècle songs, “... songs that are particularly close to my heart and voice, all of them dating from the turn of the 20th century, all of them tinged with Impressionism,” as the singer herself put it. The first of them is Bohuslav Martinu’s Magic Nights, set to Chinese poetry. Henri Duparc’s songs, one of which, depicting Phylidé, a simple and pious country girl, has given the album its title, may come as a revelation to many a listener. All the songs chosen for the album reflect a penchant for the exotic, foregrounding connection with Nature and intuition. Conducted by Robert Jindra, the Janácek Philharmonic Ostrava has created a splendidly colorful backdrop for Katerina Knežíková’s soprano to embellish. Fin de siècle songs – a universe close to Katerina Knežíková’s heart.

kr 219
Image #10 SEPTEMBER 2021
Corigliano The Ghosts of Versailles
Sols; Orchestre de l’Opéra Royal / Joseph Colaneri

"A new (audio and visual) recording of this opera made, fittingly enough, exactly where the events are set: the Palace of Versailles." (Gramophone) 

In purgatory, the Ghosts of Versailles are waiting impatiently for Beaumarchais’ new play: what if he manages to save Marie Antoinette from the scaffold? Here is Count Almaviva, the famous Figaro, but also Rosina and Cherubino, plunged into a thousand twists and turns to make the famous Queen’s Necklace disappear, thwarting the spies of the Revolution. But the situation escapes its creator, and Beaumarchais must himself become involved in the trial of the Queen – with whom he is in love? With assumed brio, Corigliano’s music navigates between Mozart and Rossini, and takes the audience into an unexpected opera, all the characters of which are familiar to us! The Ghosts of Versailles are indeed there, and will fulfil their destiny once again… This unique opera, triumphantly premiered in 1991 at the Metropolitan Opera of New York, was predestined for to the stage of the Royal Opera of Versailles, for which no doubt Beaumarchais had written this story which goes back in time… Two hundred and fifty years after her marriage in this mythical theatre, will Marie-Antoinette be able to escape her destiny there?

kr 329
R Strauss Elektra
Sols; Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra / Franz Welser-Möst

"A towering performance, an unsettling vision – ‘I found the whole thing utterly compelling,’ concludes Tim Ashley." (Gramophone) 

In its 100th anniversary edition, the Salzburg Festival celebrates a real triumph with a mind-blowing new production of Elektra, one of the most famous masterpieces of opera history by the two festival founders Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal. The Lithuanian soprano Ausrine Stundyte as vengeful and traumatized Elektra turns the opening of the Festival into a real knockout performance! Her sister Chrysotemis is sung by her compatriot Asmik Grigorian, who made her international breakthrough as acclaimed Salome at the 2018 Salzburg Festival, and whose performance once again draws the audience into spell. Tanja Ariane Baumgartner as Klytämnestra, Derek Welton as Orest and Michael Laurenz as Ägisth complete an ensemble of top-notch singers. The staging by Krzysztof Warlikowski of this work about matricide, obsession, revenge and physical degradation is a deep psychological study of a broken family. Franz Welser-Möst brings his trademark flair to the pit where the brilliantly effervescent and then again heartrendingly gentle playing Wiener Philharmoniker create gloriously exultant Strauss moments. “To have chosen Elektra of all pieces, was audacious – and to have brought it off so well, triumphant” (The Times) “One Highlight of the centenary season.” (The Telegraph)

kr 299
kr 359
Mahler Symphony No 7
Bavarian State Orchestra / Kirill Petrenko

"A remarkable recording of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony, Kirill Petrenko revealing detail as if new, presenting it with thrilling vividness and weaving it into a performance of stunning impact." (Gramophone) 

“If one sought a musical manifestation of all the painful experiences and tragic failures of European history in the early 20th century, it would be impossible to overlook the symphonies of Gustav Mahler. Here, there is no harmony where discord is more fitting. Here, life cries out, with all the conflict and joy it prof-fers humanity. In their performances, Kirill Petrenko and the Bayerisches Staats-orchester have enabled these experiences to resonate in remarkable fashion. What better way to launch the Bayerische Staatsoper’s new label than with this outstanding live concert recording.” (Nikolaus Bachler, General Manager, Bayerische Staatsoper) Kirill Petrenko, general music director of the Bayerische Staatsoper from 2013 until 2020, conducts Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 7 – a pinnacle of the symphonic repertoire in a dramatic interpretation. This is the first audio-recording with Kirill Petrenko as chief conductor of the Bayerisches Staatsorchester.

kr 189
Image #6 AUGUST 2021
JS Bach Six Keyboard Partitas, BWV825-30
Mahan Esfahani hpd

"Mahan Esfahani offers deeply thought-through interpretations presented with compelling conviction – added to that, he’s recorded them on a captivating modern instrument." (Gramophone) 

A comprehensive overview of every style available to Bach, from the archaic to the modern’: Mahan Esfahani rises confidently to the challenge of his own brilliant appraisal of the Partitas in performances brimming with intellectual and emotional energy.

kr 359
Image DVD: AUGUST 2021
Rimsky-Korsakov The Snow Maiden
Sols; Opéra National de Paris / Mikhail Tatarnikov

"‘Researched, staged, sung and filmed with true love and commitment’ writes a hugely impressed Marina Frolova-Walker." (Gramophone) 

Snegurochka (Snowmaiden), the daughter of Spring and Winter, dreams of a life amongst the humans; but the bitter Sun, looking for revenge, plans to use the fire of love to make her melt away... The Snow Maiden, Rimsky-Korsakov’s third opera, draws its focus from playwright Alexander Ostrovsky’s eponymous play, itself inspired from National folk tales. This literary work was quite unexpected, given that Ostrovsky was better known for his political satires rather than his interest in fairy tales. But the composer found a clever way to spin this paradox, and applied himself in turn to reconcile traditional singing with a creative orchestration, bringing together heritage and modernity. Stage director Dmitri Tcherniakov, a highly regarded specialist in Russian opera, humanizes this marvelous and cruel coming-of-age tale, under the surface of which innocent eroticism and bitter jealousy boil furiously. He also uses this production to draw a parallel between this paradoxical work and the contradictions of modern-time Russia, by transposing the action into an intriguing backward-looking community which, and quite unlike Snowmaiden, does not seem to be quite ready to face the unknown yet…

kr 299
Image BLU RAY: AUGUST 2021
kr 299
‘English Song Collection’

"An attractively compiled 25-CD set from Naxos, and one offering immense riches from some of the very finest singers and pianists in this repertoire." (Gramophone) 

The acclaimed English Song Series celebrates the richness and diversity of British composers, performed by leading interpreters of the repertoire. Growing out of an ancient tradition that still echoes in the folk song arrangements of Benjamin Britten, the British art song draws its inspiration from the English poetic language, the nation’s unique land and seascapes, and the suffering and joy of human emotions. From the delightfully light-hearted songs of Liza Lehmann to the abundance of invention and imagery from today’s composers, this collection is a repository of the essence of British musical craftsmanship at its finest.

kr 789
Brahms Piano Concertos
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment / András Schiff pf

"These beautiful period-instrument performances, directed by András Schiff from a restored 1859 Blüthner, bring a compelling freshness to Brahms’s much-loved piano concertos." (Gramophone) 

“My enthusiasm for Brahms goes back to my youth, and the piano concertos are largely responsible for it,” writes Sir András Schiff in a liner note for this remarkable new recording. It finds the great pianist reassessing interpretive approaches to Brahms in the inspired company of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. To fully bring out the characteristics of Brahms’s music Schiff’s choice of instrument is a Blüthner piano built in Leipzig around 1859, the year in which the D minor concerto was premiered. The historically informed Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment plays with the flexibility, attitude, and responsiveness of a chamber music ensemble, as they work without a conductor, listening attentively to each other. András Schiff’s collaboration with the orchestra in a series of concerts was widely acclaimed: “Brahms’s First Piano Concerto was reborn thanks to the OAE’s incisive playing and András Schiff’s characterful phrasing”, The Guardian exclaimed. The musicians’ mutual wish to recapture the experience led to the present double album, recorded in London in December 2019. An extensive CD booklet includes liner notes by András Schiff and Peter Gülke in English and German.

kr 299
Image #3 JULY 2021
Schreker Der Geburtstag der Infantin Zemlinsky Die Seejungfrau
RLPO / Vasily Petrenko

"Vasily Petrenko and his superb Merseyside musicians reveal their rich rapport once again in two orchestral works of lush late Romanticism." (Gramophone) 

Following on from their critically acclaimed albums of Stravinsky, Elgar and Tchaikovsky, the award winning team of Vasily Petrenko and the RLPO turn to Zemlinsky and Schreker.
Premiered in the same concert as his brother-in-law Schoenberg’s ‘Pelleas und Melisande’ in 1905, Zemlinsky’s Die Seejungfrau (after Hans Christian Andersen) was almost ignored by the reviewers. Considered too conservative for the progressives, and too progressive for the conservatives, Zemlinsky struggled to overcome the negative reviews of this masterpiece and withdrew it in the immediate aftermath of the premiere. Vasily Petrenko for this recording uses the original version of the score which restores the ‘bei der Meerhexe’ episode to the 2nd movement. Schreker’s Dance Pantomime
‘Der Guburtstag der Infantine’ (story by Oscar Wilde) was given its premiere in 1908 and was his first big success. One of the most progressive of the Viennese composers of this period, Schreker’s star would sadly wane, aided by the rise of anti - Semitism and the Nazis. Stripped of his official posts, he died in 1934 of a stroke.

kr 159
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